The uncertainty of practice in 2009 and 2010 – Is the shala open? Will Sharath be teaching? etc. – seems to be coinciding with a sudden surge of literature on and of a yoga that has been notoriously silent (except in blogs and secret chat rooms of course).
Speaking of which, the blog “On the Ashtanga path while on mother Earth” cued us in on a couple of recent additions to our Yoga Reading List 2010…
(clipped from industry press releases, although we’d be happy to review some copies…)
“A BOLD, EYE-OPENING CHRONICLE OF YOGA’S RISE TO UBIQUITY IN AMERICA”
THE SUBTLE BODY: The Story of Yoga in America
In The Subtle Body, Stefanie Syman tells the surprising story of yoga’s transformation from a centuries-old spiritual discipline to a multi billion-dollar American industry.
Yoga’s history in America is longer and richer than even its most devoted practitioners realize. It was present in Emerson’s New England, and by the turn of the twentieth century it was fashionable among the leisure class. And yet when Americans first learned about yoga, what they learned was that it was a dangerous, alien practice that would corrupt body and soul.
A century later, you can find yoga in gyms, malls, and even hospitals, and the arrival of a yoga studio in a neighborhood is a signal of cosmopolitanism. How did it happen? It did so, Stefanie Syman explains, through a succession of charismatic yoga teachers, who risked charges of charlatanism as they promoted yoga in America, and through generations of yoga students, who were deemed unbalanced or even insane for their efforts. The Subtle Body tells the stories of these people, including Henry David Thoreau, Pierre A. Bernard, Margaret Woodrow Wilson, Christopher Isherwood, Sally Kempton, and Indra Devi.
From New England, the book moves to New York City and its new suburbs between the wars, to colonial India, to postwar Los Angeles, to Haight-Ashbury in its heyday, and back to New York City post-9/11. In vivid chapters, it takes in celebrities from Gloria Swanson and George Harrison to Christy Turlington and Madonna.
And it offers a fresh view of American society, showing how a seemingly arcane and foreign practice is as deeply rooted here as baseball or ballet. This epic account of yoga’s rise is absorbing and often inspiring—a major contribution to our understanding of our society.
STEFANIE SYMAN , a literature graduate of Yale, was a founder of Feed, an early, award-winning Web magazine. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Yoga Journal. A native of Los Angeles, she lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and has practiced yoga for fifteen years.
“AN UNPRECEDENTED PORTRAIT OF A GREAT YOGA TEACHER AND THE WAYS IN WHICH TEACHINGS AND TRADITIONS ARE PASSED ON”
GURUJI: A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of His Students
Guy Donahaye and Eddie Stern
NORTH POINT PRESS
It is a rare and remarkable soul who becomes legendary during the course of his life by virtue of great service to others. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was such a soul, and through his teaching of yoga, he transformed the lives of countless people. The school in Mysore that he founded and ran for more than sixty years trained students who, through the knowledge they received and their devotion, have helped to spread the daily practice of traditional Ashtanga yoga to tens of thousands around the world. Guruji paints a unique portrait of a unique man, revealed through the accounts of his students. Among the thirty men and women interviewed here are Indian students from Jois’s early teaching days; intrepid Americans and Europeans who traveled to Mysore to learn yoga in the 1970s; and important family members who studied as well as lived with Jois and continue to practice and teach abroad or run the Ashtanga Yoga Institute today. Many of the contributors (as well as the authors) are influential teachers who convey their experience of Jois every day to students in many different parts of the globe. Anyone interested in the living tradition of yoga will find Guruji richly rewarding.
GUY DONAHAYE and EDDIE STERN
became students of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1991. Donahaye is director of the Ashtanga Yoga Shala New York City. Stern is director of the Ashtanga Yoga New York and Sri Ganesh Temple, and copublisher and editor of Namarupa.
Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings
Written by A.G. Mohan
Krishnamacharya was a renowned Indian yoga master, Ayurvedic healer, and scholar who modernized yoga practice and whose students—including B. K. S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, T. K. V. Desikachar, and Indra Devi—dramatically popularized yoga in the West. This personal tribute to the father of modern yoga, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), is written by one of his longtime disciples, a well-respected yoga teacher and yoga therapist in his own right.
A. G. Mohan draws on his own memories and notes, and on Krishnamacharya’s diaries and recorded material, to present a fascinating view of the man and his teachings, and of his own warm and inspiring relationship with the master. It’s a valuable read for all yoga students, and an essential one for all experienced yoga teachers and yoga therapists who want to understand the source of their tradition and practice.
A. G. Mohan studied with Sri T. Krishnamacharya for eighteen years until the master’s death in 1989. He is the author of numerous books. He lives in Chennai, India, with his wife, Indra, and son, Ganesh. The Mohans also teach workshops in the United States, India, and Europe.